High-speed flash photography was used to analyse wing movements of Mantis religiosa and Iris oratoria at the moment of take-off during natural leaping. Wing kinematics are compared with those of the similarly designed locust wing. Iris oratoria showed strong coupling between leg extensor and wing depressor muscle activity immediately prior to take-off, with a possible enhancement of jump momentum. A ‘clap and peel’ was observed in the hind wings of both species during the first downstroke. Supination in the mantid forewing is accomplished by a backward rotation of the whole of the main wing plate about the claval furrow. Both fore- and hind wings show pronounced ventral flexure at the lower point of stroke reversal. Camber was developed in the hind wing during the upstroke as well as the downstroke. Possible roles of the claval furrow and transverse flexion in protecting the forewing base against torsional forces generated at stroke reversal are discussed.